Fstoppers Reviews the Yongnuo TTL Flash System

Fstoppers Reviews the Yongnuo TTL Flash System

In the world of off-camera flash, there are two sides: the full manual side and the TTL (through the lens) side. I have always been on the full manual side, because when it comes to triggering a TTL flash off camera, things start to get complicated. In order to trigger the flash, you either need to have an expensive on-camera flash, an expensive TTL radio trigger, or a cumbersome TTL cable. Then, I found the affordable and feature-rich Yongnuo TTL system and instantly fell in love.

The System

In order to get your flash off camera, all you need are two Yongnuo-622n flash transceivers that are compatible with your TTL flash. One transceiver connects to your camera and acts as the trigger, while the second transceiver connects to your flash and acts as the receiver. With this simple $77 solution (not including your flash), you now have the ability to trigger your flash in manual, TTL, use high speed sync, and trigger multiple flashes based on groups and channels (with multiple flashes and triggers). The problem is that you have to adjust the TTL flash power from within the camera settings by using flash compensation and if you want to control the flash power in manual, you are stuck having to adjust it from the flash.

Enter the Yongnuo-622n TX. This transmitter not only gives you the ability to adjust the flash power in manual and TTL, it also gives you the option to adjust the zoom of each flash in addition to all the other features offered in the Yongnuo-622n transceivers. You can also switch from manual to TTL from the transmitter without having to touch your flash.

How It Works

I was surprised by how easy it was to set everything up. All I had to do was plug my flash into the transceiver, plug the transmitter into my camera, make sure my flash was set to TTL (I don't think the flash has to be in TTL for Canon users), and then confirm that the transceiver and trigger were on the same channel. After this quick process, everything just worked. The buttons on the transmitter are all very straightforward and it’s easy to figure out how to change all the settings.

The transceiver has three buttons and a switch on the unit: one button to cycle through the groups, one button to cycle through the channels, a test button, and a switch to power the device on and off.

The dedicated TX transmitter has a button for everything you can control from the unit and each setting is displayed on the screen. This means no diving into menus and settings to view or change a parameter. Each button works by pressing it to select what option you want to change, then using the directional pad to change the setting.  When changing flash power, you use the directional pad horizontally to change by full stops and vertically to change by third stops. It’s all very intuitive and easy to grasp.

When using the unit, I never once had an issue with the flash not firing or being out of range. Granted, I have never had a reason to get crazy far distances away from my flash, but I never had an issue with it being across a field or having the flash be inside while I was outside.

Build Quality

The build is what’s to be expected when dealing with cheaper products. They don't feel flimsy by any means, but they don't feel exceptionally rugged either. The glossy coating of the transceivers gets scuffed easily, but this doesn’t affect performance; so, it's not really a concern for me.

The main issue I have is with the TX transmitter. The display uses a clear plastic that seems to be easy to scratch, which leaves me wondering at what point it will become hard to see what is being displayed. After a few months of heavy use, it's still easily viewable, but I can see things going horribly wrong by simply placing it in a pocket with something that is rough or has sharp edges. The plus side is that at $44, I can buy a couple replacements and still be ahead when compared to a PocketWizard. The scratches are also not as prominent when the screen's backlight is on.   

The backlight of the display makes the scratches less noticeable.

Remote Trigger

One added bonus of the transceivers is the ability to remotely trigger your camera's shutter button. They even come with all the cables and connections you need, so there is no need to buy additional accessories. Once you attach a transceiver to your camera and run the cable to your remote port, you simply press the test button on the second transceiver to trip the shutter.

While light painting, I didn't have to keep walking back and forth to my camera. I just held a transceiver in one hand and my painting tool in the other.

What I Like

My favorite feature is the ability to trigger a flash in TTL while also being able to quickly change it to manual without needing to touch my flash. This is useful because TTL seems to work most of the time for me, but there are always those certain instances where it gets tripped up. For these situations, I can quickly and easily switch the flash to manual with a single button.

The next big feature is the ability to still use high speed sync when the flash is set to manual. In all my past days of manual flash, I was always stuck at my camera's sync speed of 1/250th of a second. I wanted to use manual flash, though, because I liked having the consistency of setting a specific flash power and not relying on the fluctuating TTL exposures. But now, I have the ability to use manual flash while also being able to exceed my camera's sync speed. Now, I get the best of both worlds.  Lastly, I can't overlook how relatively cheap the system is. 

TTL kept getting tripped up by the moving arms. A quick switch to manual made it easy to dial in what I needed.

What I Don't Like

My biggest gripe with the entire system is that the on/off switches are too easy to change. I shoot with two cameras and thus, the camera I’m not using is always bumping into my body in one way or the other. This bumping has caused a transceiver to be turned off on a couple of occasions, causing me to miss a few shots before realizing it’s off. Also, they always seem to be in the on position when I get them out of my bag. This could be that they got turned on in the bag from moving around or that I forgot to turn them off. But that brings me to my next issue: they don't have a battery-saving mode when not in use. Instead, both the transceivers and the transmitter will just sit and blink their little LED lights until they are dead. 

I also wish you could use the camera in bulb mode with the transceivers as a remote trigger. It seems that it only recognizes a single press and not a hold; so, using this setup, you are limited to the shutter speeds that are available in your camera. Lastly, while build quality is acceptable, I do wish they didn't scratch so easily.


The Yongnuo system is a very capable and affordable option for getting your flash off camera. Add in the fact that you get TTL and high speed sync and it’s a definite win. The few cons that I have seen, to me, are not worth the added expense of getting a higher-end system.

Are you team TTL or team manual? What flash trigger system do you use?

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Ian Johns's picture

Can a PC sync cable be connected to either of these to trigger remote speedlights wirelessly without having to rely on optical slave? The reason is I have since added a pair of Profoto B1's into the mix (along with the AirTTL-N) which now resides on my hotshoe. I'd like to still work in a speedlight in a triangle arrangement for headshots along with a pair bouncing off of a backdrop but can't figure out how to trigger my speedlights via these devices and wired sync. I know you can with PW because I've seen a video on YouTube, but can't find answers anywhere regarding the Yongnuo setup.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Yes, they have PC on one side ;)

Jason Vinson's picture

yes, the TX transmitter has a PC jack and the transceivers have a mini headphone jack.

Ian Johns's picture

I should have been clearer; I do own this setup (1 TX and 3 transceivers) and have really enjoyed them. To get PC sync to trigger an SB-910 "wirelessly", I have to run a sync cable from a 622N to the 910 and another cable from my D800 to the 622N-TX or 622N? Convoluted way to get a third light, I know. I have half a notion to just run a 15' cable to the 910 itself and forego using my Yongnuos in a headshot setup. Love them for architecture!

Great write up though. Hit FS right at the perfect time for me to annoy with these questions!

Why don't you use the SU-4 (optical slave) mode on the SB-910 so it fires automatically when it picks up the flash from the B1?

Michael Rapp's picture

Great write- up of a system I use quite fondly, but there's another plus I'd like to mention here: (in fact two) the yn622-N (the one w/o the display) can act as transceiver. Meaning, one goes on top of the camera, one underneath the flash. It's a bit more tricky to set up because of the absent display, but it works. But that's not the plus:
On top of the sucker on your camera you can put ANOTHER manual Flash release (like the YN 602) and so trigger another set of flashes- so you don`t have to sell all your old receivers, yet (the 622 series is incompatible with the older manual triggers).
The other plus is that the yn 622N are equipped with a focus- assist- light (you know, the laser- like crosshair that gives you shoot a SWAT- like feel).

Jason Vinson's picture

yes, I did mention the ability to only use the YN622n transceivers without the TX, but you have a good point on your other positives. I just always forget that option since I'm always using my TX

Michael Rapp's picture

That's one of the reasons I did buy the 622tn system; I had a gazillion of 603 receivers and I didn't just want to ditch a working system.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Well, you can mix them with the RF-60something triggers, but:
- need YN-560-TX
- no TTL

More info: http://flashhavoc.com/yongnuo-yn622c-ii-for-canon-now-available/

Michael Rapp's picture

What I do is: use the 622tn in full manual mode as trigger / receiver pair; which still lets me remotely change power on flash hidden on booms in softboxes (in studio work an invaluable feature), and use the 603 (or 602) trigger/ receiver on full manual to fire the background and whatnot lights. All in full manual; and I'm able to trigger any of the 560- flash series with this setup.

Vince Arredondo's picture

If you use a Nikon Flash on the top of a 622 on camera, you set your flash as commander and can control OCF (if they are Nikon) so cool! I didn't know that! You can control power, zoom, turn on/off and change to TTL or Manual, all from the commander Menu of your Nikon flash. :)

A simple fix to the scratch problem is to take a screen protector for any cell phone, cut it to size for the transmitter screen and stick it on. You probably have a pack or two of these protectors already, and if you don't they are less than $5 from Amazon.

Jason Vinson's picture

very good point!

Simon Whitehead's picture

I took a gamble on these a year ago...

...and I haven't looked back. Great performance, reliability and price. I use these in a mixed TTL and manual environment and it covers all the bases.

I believe Yongnuo is carried by both Amazon and B&H. I'd like to know from both sources what percentage of units are returned as defective. If heard quality control is an issue and should be mentioned in a review.

I can't comment on these particular units, but I have been using the Yongnuo RF-602RXs several times a week for over four years and have had no issues with their quality or functionality. My gear gets absolutely thrashed, and while I have replaced the transmitter twice, this was down to user error (lost it), and abuse (dropped it one too many times). At the price, I simply can't fault them. Having to manually adjust the flashes can be a pain, but I work exclusively with speedlights which are more often than not firing at full power. Just how reliable are these units? I have a mate that shoots real estate - he started using Yongnuo, then at huge expense upgraded to another popular brand, only to have multiple issues with them. He's back using Yongnuo now.

There is another provider who I purchased mine from. He covers the products purchased from him 100% for a full year. http://www.yongnuousa.net

Canadians can order them from www.photogear.com

Jeff Colburn's picture

Very interesting new toy. Thanks for telling us about this.

Have Fun,

Fritz John Asuro's picture

There is a battery saving mode. It will leave a red light on for all the transciever & TX when on standby.

Jason Vinson's picture

So when the red light is on, its in battery save mode? And I literally left the TX on the entire time i wrote this and it never once powered off the display?

Fritz John Asuro's picture

Hmmm. Sorry wasn't sure with the TX. My mistake.

But with the transceivers, yep the red light means it's on standby, but both must be ON. If only one has been left ON, it will keep searching for a pair transceiver.
As with the photo you've posted. Both have red lights as it was pn standby. If you press your shutter, it should wake up both transceivers

Jason Vinson's picture

good to know. maybe my issue of them being dead then is because only one is on? i have just had it where both are dead when i pull them out after minimal use... so they should have connected to each other i would think even though the TX was off... ill have to test this out.

Bruno Domingues's picture

not sure how to stop your problem with the camera bumping on you other than always check if it's on, but for carrying them in your bag, take the batteries out. I know it's annoying but I try not to carry ANY device with batteries inside (apart from the camera really)...

William Nelsen's picture

I believe there is a function in the menus to turn this on and off. Might be worth checking the manual and tinkering with the settings a bit.

Felix Wu's picture

These youngnuos are IMO just as good as the PW and even better in functionality and usability.

Martin Francis's picture

Jason, nice review. I've been sorely tempted to get these, and the reason I haven't thus far is that I don't often need radio. The on-board commander mode of the pop up flash works surprisingly well, can command speedlights in manual or TTL from the camera position, both with HSS if needed.

I think if YN integrate this TX into a TTL speedlight, I might run out of excuses not to go radio, though.

Jason Vinson's picture

ya, most of the time I'm shooting mid day and the pop up flash just didn't cut it. For the price, they are totally worth it!

Christopher Setter's picture

The new YN685 has an integrated yn622tx in it! It's only for Canon for the time being, and I would wait until any foreseen bugs are fixed.

Bruno Domingues's picture

the YN600EX-RT is a great flash + transmitter all in one. if you want you can turn the lamp off so it works as a transmitter only. I just got two of them and two receivers so I can use my old canon flashes, it's really great! oh and all YN stuff have a usb port for firmware upgrade :)

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